You just bought an Echo device. Now what?
We’re here to make sure you get your new Echo device set up with minimal hassle and to show you what Alexa can really do. Make your way through our list of the top things to do to get started with ease.
Download the Alexa app from the App Store or Google Play
The number one thing you will need to do to before setting up your device is to download the Alexa app. This app is not only crucial to getting the echo device set up, but it also is where you will go if you ever need to make changes to any of your Alexa devices – as well as do some very cool things that we will discuss in a bit.
Navigate to the iOS App Store or Google Play store for Android to download the Amazon Alexa app. Once it’s downloaded, sign in with your amazon account. You may even notice that the app knows you’re attempting to set up an Alexa device. The reason for this is Amazon registers your device to the account it was purchased with to help with the process, which is very cool and user friendly. From this point, follow the prompts to connect the Echo to your wifi network which will allow you to complete the fairly straightforward setup, and allow you to begin properly using the device.
Have Alexa Control Your Smart Home
It might seem obvious given that you’re on a site called Smart House Resource and that we are talking about Echo devices, but it’s worth pointing out what is in our opinion, the best use for a Voice Assistant device: control of your Smart Home. And Alexa herself is compatible with an extremely wide variety of smart home devices. This gives you the power to control everything from your air conditioning to the lights in your home with just your voice.
To get started, navigate to the Smart Home section of the Alexa app. From there, tap on devices and then select Discover Devices. Alexa will begin scanning the network for compatible devices and will populate a list of the ones it detects. From there, you can add your devices to Groups (think of them as rooms) so you can tell Alexa “Turn off the bedroom” or “Turn on the house”.
Have Alexa Play Some Tunes
The original Echo has a pretty beefy speaker included, while the Echo Dot has a 3.5 aux port that allows you to plug in to your own preferred speaker or sound system.
Out of the box, your Amazon Echo will have access to Prime Muisc which is included with your Prime subscription. However, Amazon now also has Amazon Music Unlimited, which shares similarities to Apple Music or Spotify in that it lets you stream the latest releases and countless songs and albums for $7.99 a month; making music available on all of your Echo and Amazon devices (Amazon also allows you to sign up for a special Echo plan for $3.99 a month, but you can only use it on the device you sign up on).
As we mentioned, the service itself is very comparable to Apple Music or Spotify, and offers a family plan for $14.99 as well (putting it once again next to Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play). You can sign up for a free-30 day trial of the service here.
Speaking of Spotify, Amazon offers integration with that service, so if you subscribe to Spotify you can connect your account and stream your music and playlists. Just go to Settings, then Music and Media, and log in with your Spotify account.
And since we mentioned Apple Music and Google Play, it’s worth pointing out that there is no Apple Music or Google Play Music compatibility with Echo Devices at this time (Google Play Music is available with the Google Home, and Apple Music will be available with Apple’s HomePod product this fall). However, there are other music options like TuneIn radio and – for satellite radio subscribers – SiriusXM, which recently introduced an Alexa skill bringing the service to Echo owners.
Regardless of your choice of service, once your streaming music preferences are set, you can ask Alexa to “play The Beatles” or “play my Party playlist”. If you want to play a different song or playlist, either say “Alexa stop” or “Alexa, play something else”. And if you’re using a radio service, you can ask Alexa to change or go to a different station.
Keep Score of your Favorite Teams’ Scores
If you’re a sports fan, Alexa can always keep you up to date on your favorite teams. With Alexa, you can have her tell you scores and upcoming schedules for your favorite teams. Navigate to the settings option in the app, go to sports update, and add your favorite teams. Then you can say “Alexa, give me my sports update.”
Setup your Calendar and have Alexa keep track of your appointments
Your Amazon Echo offers a convenient list option (so you can say “Alexa, add eggs to my list”), but to manage your day-to-day activities, she has the ability to integrate your calendar of choice. By connecting to your Google, iCloud or Outlook calendars you can get Alexa to check what’s happening today or let you know what appointments you have ahead. To do this, navigate to the Settings option and select Calendar. Follow the prompts to setup your calendar account.
Have Alexa Make Your Morning Easier
The morning routine is a staple for many, and along with it usually comes the daily commute. And for many, it is often quite the headache, especially if an accident or roadwork causes delays. But Alexa may be able to help in this regard. First off, replace your old alarm clock with your Echo, and have Alexa wake you up on time. Tell Alexa “wake me up in the morning”. And while the default alarm sounds lovely, you can go to the Alexa app and to the Alerts & Alarms section to change it to something else. Amazon offers many soothing sound options, and even gives you celebrity voice options (which change often but can include Alec Baldwin, the hosts of The Grand Tour, etc). And as for getting ready for the work day after you’re awake, you can become more aware of traffic conditions for your commute when you say “Alexa, give me a traffic update”.
To get started, ensure that Alexa knows your home address and work address. In the Alexa app navigate to the Settings menu, then select Traffic. Add both of your addresses. Be sure to include the proper street number, as well as the name, city, and state. While she can’t make you a cup of coffee for the ride yet (or can she?), she can perhaps help you get to work a little bit safer.
Talk to your Echo’s. All of them
Amazon recently introduced a brand new feature for those who have multiple Echo devices in the home: intercom support. If you have more than one Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show in your home, you can now talk to another Echo device in another room instantly to get someone’s attention (instead of screaming through the house).
To set up intercom capability, you first need to name each Echo device. Amazon recommends addressing them by the room they are in; for example, “The kitchen” or “The bedroom.” Then, in your Alexa App settings, make sure that drop-in functionality is enabled.
Once that’s done you would say “Alexa, drop in on the kitchen” which will immediately begin an audio call.
You can also drop in on a device away from home by using the Alexa app. Open the app, tap conversations, then tap “Drop in” and select the device you want to drop in on ( if you have the Echo Show, doing the intercom drop in feature will bring up a video chat if you use the Alexa app or another Echo Show).
Phone a Friend With Alexa
As well as intercom support, you can also use that section of the app to make a call to anyone else who has an Echo device. To do so, navigate to the same section of the app where you initiate a intercom call, tap on a contact, and it will begin to call their device. Keep in mind a call is different than the intercom option as the call will need to be accepted by someone, and will be ignored if it is not. Still, this feature is a very cool option and could lead to a future where the home phone is replaced by Echo devices.
Want more? There’s a skill for that
By now you have your device fully set up and customized to be useful as possible for you and your home. But while Amazon built Alexa with many abilities, you can improve the usefulness of your Echo by adding new skills.
Skills are essentially the Alexa version of apps, that will allow you to do a variety of things such as ordering a pizza from Dominoes or even playing jeopardy. The skills store is full of over 15,000 skills, so you’re bound to find something that will be useful to you.
Want to check out more Amazon Echo devices?
How do you like using your Alexa device? Does it make your smart home feel futuristic? What issues are you having? Let us know in the comments below!